Source: The Guardian
Snackable content can give the numbers a boost – but it’s content with a meaningful message that has enduring appeal
TC Bank’s Dream Rangers ad has been viewed over 5.5 million times on YouTube. It’s inspired by a real-life group of older people who decided to get back on their motorbikes and go on a 1,000km (620 mile) cruise of Taiwan. Even though the commercial was first launched in 2011, this story of reclaiming a zest for life has had its own renaissance on social media over the past few weeks.
What makes content shareable, even years after it’s been initially released? What is it about this kind of content that causes such a powerful reaction – and prompts an audience to tell their friends and family about it?
Perhaps it’s content that evokes empathy, spurs thinking and provides meaning. Snackable content – the addictive, instantly gratifying kind – may boost media consumption but doesn’t tend to change minds and behaviors. Content that resonates more deeply is different: users share it not with the one friend who might appreciate it, but with their entire network – partly because it associates them with the topic.
Bob Gilbreath, author of The Next Evolution of Marketing, says the same is true for brands – they need to not just do meaningful marketing, such as cause marketing, but make marketing itself meaningful. If brands’ messages can add meaningful value to the lives of those who receive them, then those messages will be shared – effecting change not just in the consumer but in their community too.
Here are a few textbook examples of big brands using meaningful messages that spawned empathy and action:
The bestselling album from last year, Adele’s 25 smashed records on every level, including the highest first week album sales in both the US and the UK, as well as the most-watched video in 24 hours for Hello, among others. In stating that each of her age albums (the trilogy of 19, 21 and 25) is a snapshot of her experience during that year of her life, she strengthens the connection her fans feel to her and for her.
Buzz around the launch of 25 was fuelled by a free concert in New York’s Radio City Music Hall days before the album dropped. Televised online shortly after, the gig showcased the frenzy of excitement her fans felt about the album’s release. She also took part in a video of an Adele impersonator contest that has been viewed a staggering 43.8 million times. It all helped send sales through the roof.
Inside Out at the Puppy Bowl
One of the biggest films of last year was Inside Out, Pixar’s poignant journey into emotions. As part of the film’s promotional push, characters representing our primary emotions – Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger – gave a play-by-play commentary on Animal Planet network’s Puppy Bowl, which is broadcast opposite the NFL Super Bowl every year.
Placing these animated characters in the middle of an actual live event encouraged empathy from viewers and prompted them think mindfully about their own emotions – and go and see the film, of course.
Serial: season one podcast
This spinoff of NPR’s This American Life proved to be the podcast that catapulted the genre back into the mainstream. Not only did it grow wildly popular as the murder mystery unfolded, but it also helped to reopen what some considered a flawed case against the convicted murderer, Adnan Syed.
The level of empathy the audience had for the people involved became borderline obsessive, made evident by the millions that listened, dissected and discussed the episodes online and off. Some even took matters into their own hands and sent Sarah Koenig, the host and producer, tips to help discover the truth. The listeners were also forced to face tough questions of character, such as if anyone, including themselves, could be capable of heinous crimes given the right circumstances.
Regardless of the type of content that artists, brands and publishers create today, a meaningful authentic story can draw in an audience that could otherwise be critical and desensitized. The more the content focuses on the values that a brand (be it Adele, Pixar or Serial) and its audience hold dear, the more solid the relationship it builds with its audience – no small achievement especially in our constantly shifting landscape of content consumption.